Something to Say: Sixth grade, singing and swatting away shame

Between the Ukraine, an impeachment inquiry and the climate crisis, not to mention (GASP!) motorized vehicles on Mackinac Island, sometimes it’s okay to turn up the music and enjoy the ride to school with a little positivity.

As a woman still sporting the scars of a sixth grade experience full of mean girls and a really bad haircut, color me thrilled about the opportunity to drive my own sixth-grade son to school in 2019 as we both belt out the lyrics to Lizzo’s “Good as Hell.”


I mean, you guys. With lyrics like these, who needs lycra?

“Woo child, tired of the bullshit

Go on dust your shoulders off, keep it moving

Yes Lord, tryna get some new shit

In there, swimwear, going to the pool shit

Come now, come dry your eyes

You know you a star, you can touch the sky

I know that it's hard but you have to try

If you need advice, let me simplify”

Even with so many smh-inducing things happening at fire hose speed, songs like “Good as Hell,” as well as a handful of others, including the well worn “Old Town Road,” for reasons listed here, can make it hard not to smile on the way to school.

It’s heartwarming to think that the 2019 version of intermediate school has at least a small dose of self love and acceptance available to young people navigating a world of changing emotions and developing bodies. That would be much different than 1988 version when my school day started with a misty cloud of hair spray and a heavy fog of dread.

Amy Bailey

I’m especially grateful that today we’ve got …

What’s even better? These women and their messages? They’ve been building for a while. In some cases, they’re literally years in the making.

Lizzo has been working as a musician, she’s a classically trained flutist, for more than a decade. Brené Brown’s incredible TED Talk about vulnerability that has 45 million views? It’s nine years old. Rapino is 34 years old and is among those who filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation on March 8 and then went on to win the World Cup.

So yes, it feels good to think that things like “change” and “acceptance” are in the air. But we still have plenty of buzzing insects insistent that the old way was the best way. This month, just a couple of days after I tweeted about my happiness about being able to sing “Good as Hell” on the way to school, I heard Bill Maher thinks differently about things.

“Fat shaming doesn’t need to end, it needs to make a comeback. Some amount of shame is good. We shamed people out of smoking and into wearing seat belts,” he said at the end of an episode of his HBO television show “Real Time.”

But instead of being weighed down by those awful comments, the brilliant James Corden provided us a lighthearted buoy in a response that was funny, vulnerable and empowering.

While those annoying, buzzing insects may always be around -- attracted to tradition and repelled by change -- today’s world also gives us access to a wide variety of ways to beat them back and build up ourselves.


Amy Bailey was a member of the Michigan Capitol Press Corps from 2000-2006. She lives and works in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband, son and an easily excitable Australian Shepherd named Max. Amy's guest column, Something to Say, publishes periodically. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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